Monthly Archives: April 2013

segregated prom

It blows me away that there are still places having segregated proms. That is really shameful and should be illegal. It should be illegal, in my opinion, to have an event that discriminates on the basis of race. What is it with the South?

I really wish this country could move past it’s obsession with race and affirmative action and quotas and so on and so forth. Electing a president was a good step in the right direction, but it’s impossible to move on while this kind of thing is still happening.

One of the cool things about where I live now is that I always see children of different races playing together. This is the norm, not the exception, around here. If they wanted to have proms by race here, they’d have to have about six of them.


what we want in a house

It’s interesting going down the housing road for the second time.  My requirements have changed in some areas, but not in others.

What we want:

1.) 1800 sq. ft. or larger.  In house #1, I wanted something around 1600 sq. ft.  I ended up with 1200 sq. ft.  This is great when it’s just us, but it’s hard when we have visitors.  We have to put them in a foyer, and since my parents come for up to 3 weeks at a time, this can be a bit inconvenient.

2.) 4 or more bedrooms or equivalent.  In my house, we have only bedrooms, kitchen, living room and foyer.  In larger houses, I’ve noticed there tend to be rooms like dining room, office (basically a bedroom without a closet) and other random rooms.  I’d like at least four rooms in addition to the kitchen and living room.  Basically, we’d like at least a master bedroom, room for the baby, office for B and a guest bedroom.

3.) 2 car garage.  A lot of older houses around here have only a carport or single car garage.  I really like having a 2 car garage, especially given our constant rain.

4.) Lot 9000 sq. ft. or larger.  My current lot is about 9200 sq. ft. and we just love our backyard.   One thing I have noticed is that while a 10,000 sq. ft. lot generally meant a large, flat backyard when I was looking at small houses built in the 60s, it often doesn’t mean that for larger, more recently built houses.  The newer bigger houses tend to be set further back from the road, and the house itself takes up more of the lot.

5.) Large, private backyard.  (See #4.)  This is quite limiting.

6.) Good school district.  (See previous blog.)

7.) Built 1982 or later.  (I’d like to avoid lead paint.)

8.) Not in the middle of a forest.  (Some houses around here are just completely surrounded by giant trees.  I love trees but like SOME sunlight.)

9.) Backs on green space.  This one is a stretch, but our dream house would back on a green space.

Obviously, we’re willing to compromise on some or all of these, but our ideal house would meet all eight criteria.  I’m curious how my dream house requirements compare to other people’s.  If I lived in TX, I know “has pool” would be near the top of my list for a dream house.  In Vir.ginia, I’d want a house that was at least partially brick.  Around here, that’s just not realistic since the majority of houses are cedar.

Our thought is that we’d buy a house next winter, since house prices drop in the winter time.  That should given us time to pay off this house and generally get our act together.  (I want to rent this house until housing values rise.)  I just hope that interest rates don’t go up and housing values don’t rise too much.

In the meantime, I’ve been going around to open houses to help familiarize myself with the market. We looked at five houses yesterday, one in Iss.aquah, one in Belle.vue, and three in  As it turns out, we completely LOVED the house we looked at in Issa.quah.  Most houses in our price range are nice but not too fancy.  This house was custom built, huge and just beautiful.  I particularly liked a few things.  It had giant windows in the living room that looked out on the beautiful “grounds.”  It also had two small children’s rooms that were linked but kind of private to each other – absolutely idea in my opinion for siblings.  It’s hard to describe, but if I was a little kid, that’s where I’d want my room.  The house sat on 1.6 acres of unforested land.  Much of it was unusable, but it had plenty of green grassy space and felt very private.  In addition, the area is surrounded by mountains, which I love.  The hitch?  The schools are not ideal.  It’s in the Issaqu.ah school district, which overall is very good, but this house is in the worst high school district of the Issa.quah area.  In addition, it’s off the beaten path.  You’re looking at a 15 minute drive to the local schools and 15 minutes to the nearest grocery store, and basically to anything.  Beautiful spot – but not particularly convenient.


I then proceeded to a house in Belle.vue.  It was nice but unspectacular.. Bult in 1979, it doesn’t meet my lead paint requirement. It was in good but not great shape. The back yard was very small and shaded. On the flip side, it’s in one of the best school districts and is conveniently located to just about everything. It cost 50K more than the spectacular house on the 1.6 acres. Boy do you pay for location!

We went on to see three houses in Samma.mish, which is just kind of out of the way. You definitely get more bang for your buck out there. For 600K or so, the houses we looked at were built in the 90s instead of 70s or 80s and were a bit larger. The neighborhood seemed more upscale. However, it is just so far out of the way! Also, none of the houses really met our backyard requirement. We did look at one on an acre of land, but it was much older, and in the middle of the woods with not much sunlight to be seen.

Where to live?

I posted before about schools.  I want L to have every opportunity to succeed.  While I think it’s possible to succeed in almost any circumstances (in the US anyway), it’s obviously much easier in some than others.  I want to remove as many roadblocks as I can from L’s way.  I attended four schools  – a Catholic school in Philly for K-1, a Catholic school in the ‘noke for 2 – 9, a magnet high school for math and science in the mornings for 10-12, and my local high school in grades 10-12 for all other subjects.  When I changed schools in second grade, I remember being very, very bored.  This lasted pretty much through 9th grade, when I changed again to go to public school.  My first desire is for L to avoid that boredom.  In eighth and ninth grade, I also had a very negative experience socially.  My two best friends left the school in 6th and 7th grades, and I struggled to make friends the next year in eighth grade.  I ended up hanging out mostly with people I didn’t particularly like (with at least one notable exception R!).  Anyway, I think being a bit of an odd bird, a very small school wasn’t a great option.  I did a lot better in a larger public school filled with all kinds of different people.  I never want L to go through the social trauma I did either, if I can help it.

My high school wasn’t especially challenging, but I had good teachers, learned a lot, and was definitely challenged somewhat.  The magnet school I attended in the mornings was really good in that I met lots of other kids who were very academically focused.  The classes were small, and we got to do things like spend in the month of December working exclusively on a Science project and nothing else.  In the afternoons, I had the traditional high school experience and enjoyed after-school sports.  My only complaint is that it was very difficult for kids from my high school to get into the most exclusive colleges.  Of the four hundred kids in my graduating class, one went to and one to Cor.nell (on a ROTC scholarship).  This compares unfavorably with B’s experience.

B had a very different high school experience.  He went to a very exclusive prep school in Man.hattan.  Many very wealthy students went there, and despite being the son of a Manhat.tan doctor, B thought he was poor.  Ironically, he realized that wasn’t the case when he went to Har.vard, a place I’d always assumed was mostly filled with rich people.  Anyway, B enjoyed his school experience.  He wants L to have the same opportunities he did, namely to attend a school like Har.vard, should she be academically capable.  Personally, I feel that I got a great and well-priced education from GT, but I can certainly understand B feeling like he should provide his daughter with the same chances his parents provided him.

I mentioned before that the schools are very poor in my immediate area.  In particular, the local elementary school is particularly poor.  While there’s no doubt parents and family have an enormous influence on children, peers are very influential as well.  Our local school is not average, or slightly below average.  It is bottom shelf, at least numerically speaking.  The parent ratings are poor as well.  We live in Ke.nt, and there are average schools in Ke.nt, so one option would be to move to a part of Ke.nt with average or slightly above average schools.  However, I figure if we’re going to move, we might as well move to a place with excellent schools.  Why not?  There’s nothing I’d rather spend money on than opportunities for L.

So where are the excellent schools, and how much do houses cost there?  Probably the best option would Mer.cer Island.  I actually lived there when I first moved to WA.  (My office was in a different location at that time.)  According to Great Schools, it has the best schools in the area.  What I like about it is that there are only five or six schools total – three elementary schools, one or two middle schools, and a high school.  There are no worried about school districts changing and your child getting screwed if you live there.  It’s very small and therefore, I figure not institutional.  MI has other advantages as well.  It’s a reasonable commute (< 25 minutes) to basically anywhere one might want to work in the area – Seat.tle, Belle.vue, Ke.nt – you name it.  It’s right in the middle.  It’s also an island (reachable by road) so it has lots of scenic views and a beautiful lakeside park.  What’s the catch?  Isn’t it obvious?  Price – of course.  The median home price on MI is 1.6 million.  Ouch.  The price for an entry level house is around 600K.  For that, you get a modest house built around 1960 in decent condition but with no updates – original flooring, cabinets, bathrooms, etc.   I definitely consider this an option.  We live in a modest house now and are perfectly happy.  Our house was built more recently (’83) but has only 1200 square feet.  For 600k on MI, you’d probably get around 1800 sq. ft.

View Larger Map

The next option to consider is West Belle.vue.  Belle.vue has four major high schools that I know of.  Three are good, and two of the three are exceptionally good.  The location is not quite as convenient as MI but still quite central, and the commute to most parts of Sea.ttle is arguably acceptable  Here the median home price varies from 800K to 2 million, depending on the zip code.  In the cheaper areas, for 600 to 700K, however, you get a house around 2500 sq. ft. built around 1980.  It likely hasn’t seen much renovation, but it was higher end to start with and built more recently than the MI house, so overall, it’s a much better house.  There are more modest options around here for 450 to 500K.  For that amount, you get the somewhat run-down (but not dilapidated) 1960s 1800 sq. ft. house.   I consider W. Belle.vue probably the most promising option.

There are various other options as well.  If you head East of Lake Samm.amish, you find very nice houses at more affordable prices.  Here you find houses 2500 sq. ft with brick facades built in the 90s for around 600K.   However, you are totally off the beaten path here, and I think it would be really limiting in terms of job options since I am really not a big fan of commuting.  The schools are not nationally renowned here, like W. Belle.vue schools, but they are very good and completely acceptable in my opinion.

South of Samma.mish, you find Issaqua.h.  This area is dominated by three mountains, Cou.gar, and Squa.k.  B loves this area.  He runs here regularly at lunch or on the weekends.  I love it, too.  I grew up on a small mountain, and I love to drive around and have my horizon dominated by a mountain.  It just feels good.  Anyway, the problem here is again being too far off the beaten path.  With B’s current job, it wouldn’t be an issue, but it would be limiting if he wanted to pursue a more traditional career.  The commute to my office varies between moderately annoying to seriously irritating, depending on the exact location.  The schools her vary between moderate and very good.

View Larger Map

If anyone is still reading, congratulations on your perseverance!  Episode II to come. 😉

stomping around

Thanks to our stay-at-home mom model over the last year, we’ll be getting a refund this year for the first time since we got married.  I’m restraining myself from the urge to rant on the unfairness of the tax system that punishes families with two working persons.

B is out of town at the moment.  He’ll be gone for three nights total and gets in late, meaning I get four bedtimes and four opportunities to deal with all the evening work myself.  Coming home to the tasty stir-fry N made certainly made things easier this evening, despite some major crankiness from L.  I’m not sure if it has anything to do with B’s absence or not.


I ended up buying the green dress, though I exchanged the 12 month size you see in the picture for the 18 month size.  However, I was in Target yesterday and saw this ridiculous pink confection for $14 on clearance and could not resist buying it.  Pictures to come.  At the moment I’m thinking green dress for rehearsal dinner and pink ridiculousness for the wedding itself.  How often does one have the chance to dress up in pink chiffon, after all?  Carpe diem.

I bought L a Little House on the Praire hat, and I kind of love it.

L is still not walking.  In fact, she’s not even standing.  I’m trying not to worry, but not entirely succeeding.  More troubling is that she’s really not talking much either.  A child is supposed to have three words by age 15 months or he / she is referred to speech therapy.  L is 14 months and arguably has 3 words – dog, mama, and ma (for more).  However, she doesn’t use any of these words frequently like other babies her age that I’ve seen that repeatedly and deliberately use their words.  N has been teaching L to sign, and she seems to prefer signing.  She’ll sign “more,” or “I’m hungry” or other things like hand washing and so on.  I’m wondering if she would talk more if we weren’t messing around with the signing.  I am really not a huge fan, but B is, so I am outnumbered.  On the plus side, L’s understanding seems to be excellent.  I counted up 50 words she clearly understands without that much difficulty, and I figure she probably has 75 to 100.  She’s learning new words every day.  I just wish she would say more!


rose colored glasses

We did cry-it-out about a month ago, when L was 13 months old, and she has been sleeping so well ever since.  Life has been so good.  There is nothing like sleeping through the night!  I had tried cry-it-out before when L was about 10 months old, but it just didn’t really work.  I didn’t have the stomach for the level of hysterics she escalated to quickly, and night 2 was no better than night 1, so I gave up.  About a month ago, I tried again.   We have the crib flush with our bed with one side taken off it, so it is like one big bed.  She sleeps in the crib and can feel close to us, but we have enough space.  At times, I wish I wasn’t sleeping between two people and had a side to myself, but mostly I like being next to the two people I love most in the world.  Anyway, I stayed in the room with her and just laid her down every time she sat up.  If she was laying down and crying, I just let her cry and didn’t attempt to comfort her, as anything short of picking her up hadn’t seemed to work in past.  She cried on and off throughout the night, so it was a very rough night.  (B evacuated.)  The next night, though, she barely cried, and she’s slept through the night (10:30 pm until 5:30 am) most nights since.  It is so nice!  L was a difficult sleeper since day 1, though I’m very aware that some people have babies who were even worse.  Still, I remember in the early days when I’d hear or read about other people complaining because their baby woke up too frequently, and I’d just wish L would fall asleep in the first place before 4 or 5 am so she’d have a chance to wake up.  I remember setting my alarm so I’d nurse her every two hours, and I never, ever had to use it.  Things kind of went from there.  She improved, but slowly, and generally slept worse than most babies.  I do have a friend whose baby is about L’s age and still wakes up every two hours, and has never, ever slept through the night, so I know things could have been much, much worse for us.  Anyway, I have just been loving life lately with respect to sleep.

L is fourteen months old today.  It’s hard to believe.  B and I were looking at some of her baby pictures this evening, and she has grown up so much.  The year we spent together, never separated for more than about three hours, and rarely for more than one, seems a bit like a dream, a very pleasant dream.  I’ll never forget it.  I’m adapting to my new life of working and seeing L at night and just having a toddler in general, and this life is good, too, but I do feel nostalgic for this time last year.  Of course, at this time last year, L had just turned two months and was in full-blown colic mode, crying for hours every night, and in a few days, we’d find out she had thrush and go through that battle, so maybe I shouldn’t be too nostalgic.

all about L

We weighed L tonight and she weighed in at 18 pounds 10.5 ounces.  I remember when we used to weigh her every day, and my mood for the day would rise or fall based on half an ounce.  After a while, we dropped down to three times a week, but for a very long time I still agonized over every weigh-in.  She gained only one pound between 9 and 12 months, but this kept her on the 20th percentile weight curve.  However, so far she’s already gained nearly a pound and a half since 12 months, so I don’t know if she’s going through a growth spurt or what.  She has an adorable pot belly.

We have a bedtime routine these days that I love.  We start with “book choosing.”  I pick four books, and L chooses her favorite, and we repeat this twice, for a total of three bedtime stories.  Then we add a fourth, “parent’s choice.”  For some reason, I derive enormous enjoyment out of picking the four books she chooses from, and then watching her make her decision.  Sometimes she loves all four, but every so often, she rejects all of them, which is always amusing.  It’s impossible to predict what she’ll choose.  She really does have a mind of her own.

We have been enjoying an early spring here in Seattle, and it’s been great to get out in the yard with L.  I really love our backyard.  I just put in another lilac bush as well as a camellia and a forsythia.  My hydrangeas are starting to grow their leaves, and the hostas are poking their noses out from the ground.  I love it when plants bloom in spring.  I also put in a few annuals, mostly primroses.  I’ve never tried primroses before, so we’ll see how it goes.

We’ve been letting L feed herself yogurt with the spoon lately, and it’s made for extremely messy mealtimes.  At least she’s having fun!